First picture of the Nielsen Kellerman EmPower Oarlock

The EmPower oarlock has been mentioned by NK before, there was even a “dummy” model back at the HOCR showing the concept of the device, but there hadn’t previously been any pictures of the product available – This week NK released a photo of the Empower gate on their “get more speed” GPS Speedcoach facebook page in response to a comment that there was a concern that these new wireless oarlocks would be incompatible with the increasingly more common “rear riggers) – with the photo clearly showing the gate is fine with what looks like the Filippi back riggers, with a comment that they have been working with companies (including Fluid) to make sure it will be compatible with as many boats as possible

concep 2 gate

As discussed before, NK are in a good position with already having a solid head unit on the market in the NK GPS 2.0 so bringing in a wireless force oarlock would be a clever step by the company and would encourage people already used to using NK equipment to pick NK empower meter over other options. Currently there is no mention of potential release date and price

EDIT – NK have come out with the following comment “we are still working on a few things, but we are working really hard to have them available for the fall season” so It may be the aim will be to try and have the product available for HOCR, which if they manage it would be an excellent launch pad for the product 

As a side note (and not specifically aimed at NK) – although it is always good to see that the development of the gate is moving ahead, it is frustrating that information only leaks out in piecemeal like this rather than a more regular update from companies working on these affordable power meters – my experience is there is a lot of interest in these products, and a lot of excitement for when they will finally get to the market – it is appreciated that development of projects like this is complicated and so timelines are difficult to set, but in that case it is better to communicate the difficulties and shifting timelines so that potential customers can shift their expectations.






About stelph82

I am a rower who is a lot of a technology geek as well!
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5 Responses to First picture of the Nielsen Kellerman EmPower Oarlock

  1. Richard says:

    Good find Tom! Have PM’d you on Twitter something I just found which is very hard to find on google.

    Can you post link to the NK facebook page you referenced?

    Also amazed how quiet all the companies are! Or are they 😉

    I guess promoting a pre-released product in modern times you end up with a whole lot of questions coming your way. Sometimes so many it must be difficult to cope with them all. I feel sorry for crowd funding campaigns on this part.

    I can see why NK might release info to current customers only 😉

    • stelph82 says:

      I’m it sure if I can link to the facebook page, it’s called “get more speedcoach” and it’s set up for speedcoach GPS owners to share/ask comments and give feedback to NK
      I agree, it’s a challenging thing managing expectation but I still think even bad news is better than no news!

  2. I work at a company that builds electronic test equipment and I really have mixed feelings about sharing info before release. As a consumer, I like to know about this stuff because it’s cool, and it might make me decide to wait on a purchase if I know that something better is coming along.

    On the other hand, I think there are very good reasons to keep it quiet. First, if you’re NK, you probably don’t want the OarInspired folks to now what you are building, how much it will cost, and exactly when it will be available. This is a pretty small market. Second, it seems that the development timeline for these products is not even close to deterministic. I bet it is a really difficult challenge to get the calibration and software right and that is a long and iterative. Look at Oarinspired. I think their original schedule had them shipping in early 2015, and they are at least 18 months behind that schedule.

    I think it is possible to do this publicly, but it requires consistency. If you go out with a kickstarter and get people to sponsor, I think you have taken on a commitment to keep your sponsors informed. Starting publicly and then doing a fade is frustrating and impacts your reputation.

    • Also there is a huge difference between working with a few partners/launch customers to quietly work out a few bugs, opposed to suddenly needing to solve that same bug having penetrated to hundreds or thousands of customers.

    • stelph82 says:

      On your points

      Firstly – Im not sure that discussing things like features and price would be a particularly dangerous commerical move with respect to competitors – In the cycling power meter market there isn’t a huge number of different features between products, they are pretty common across the board – the main thing they all protect closely is their method/calculations around measuring the power being produced – If companies that are targeting the cycling market (where customers are highly tech savvy) are happy to show off development pictures and shots im not sure why in rowing there would be any more risk doing the same

      Secondly I agree there is a large amount of complexity around developing these products and the calculations involved, but keeping people involved and updated at all times without unecessarily committing to specific dates can work quite well as long as people dont feel they are being mislead.

      I think the main challenge all these companies have is that rowing is quite a tough market to get into, rowers tend to be quite closed to trying new things as a whole and so I feel products like this will need to drum up a lot of PR before launching in order to make sure it is picked up

      In any case it is good to see that NK have now mentioned an aim for the product to come in Fall – hopefully what will happen now is they will either make this date OR they inform that the date will not be met and has been shifted for X and Y reasons – this would be a much more pragmatic approach to communication and would help keep interest high

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